Falling in love and entering a marriage contract for life is exciting. What isn’t as fun is considering what could happen in the future if your love fades. Signing a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement is worth considering to protect your interests. We speak to SAMANTHA SOH from Derrick Soh Law Corporation to learn a little more about when and why to enter into one of these legal agreements.
Derrick Soh Law Corporation is a young and vibrant legal firm. Tell us more.
Derrick Soh Law Corporation was founded in 2021, and is a both competent and cost-effective law firm. With a combined 12 years of experience between us, Derrick Soh and I offer legal guidance on family law, personal injuries claims, probate and other legal disputes.
What are your personal legal qualifications and experience?
I joined the firm early this year, bringing to the table a wealth of experience in matrimonial disputes and criminal matters. Graduating with a Bachelor of Law (Hons) from the University of Liverpool in 2014, I was called to the Singapore Bar in 2016. Prior to that, I obtained a Bachelor of Arts (media and communications) from the University of Melbourne.
I’m well-versed in the practice of family law and have represented clients in a wide variety of divorce cases as well as child-related and relocation applications. Over the years, I’ve also become a practiced hand at alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation.
Divorce for expats can be complicated. What can people do before and after divorce to protect themselves?
People should educate themselves on their rights and obligations in a divorce. While no two cases are alike, the law on divorce in Singapore is aligned with several repeating themes. For example, in matters involving children, the Court will always make its decisions based on the best interests of the children instead of what parties may individually desire.
What are prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and how do they differ?
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are marriage contracts which state clearly how parties’ financial affairs will be dealt with in the event of a divorce or separation. If these agreements were made with the assistance of lawyers and if they accurately reflect parties’ financial and non-financial circumstances, the Court in a divorce case is likely to consider such agreements as a fair and just representation of what parties should obtain in any divorce.
The only difference between pre- and postnuptial agreements is that prenuptial agreements are made before marriage while postnuptial agreements are made after marriage. On its own, this difference is not important.
Why do clients ask for a prenuptial and postnuptial agreements?
There are various reasons why clients would ask for a prenuptial or postnuptial agreements in addition to marriage contracts. For instance, parties may own a sizeable amount of assets and would like to protect them after they get married. Sometimes one party has a huge debt entering into a marriage contract. There will also be instances where clients can no longer trust their spouses owing to their infidelity or other marital turmoil.
With these agreements, parties will be able to set clear expectations on their financial responsibilities and/or allow them to rebuild the relationship.
What is typically included in these marriage contracts?
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements usually provide for:
- How assets are to be divided;
- Care arrangements for children;
- Alimony (maintenance) for both the wife and the child; and
- Any other orders which parties may wish to obtain in the event of a divorce.
In my opinion, it would be nice to include a provision that allows parties to review the agreement after a period of time or upon any significant events such as the birth of a child. This would ensure the prenuptial agreement remains fair and meets the needs of parties.
What’s the best country to execute these agreements if living in Singapore?
Whether these agreements can be executed in other countries will depend on the law of that country. In Singapore, however, such prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are allowed and can be executed. If parties intend to live in Singapore for the foreseeable future, they would be well-advised to execute such agreements in Singapore. It’s also important to obtain advice from Singapore-qualified lawyers.
Are these agreements binding and enforceable in Singapore and abroad?
These agreements are not necessarily binding in the Singapore Courts. However, they can factor heavily in the Court’s assessment when a divorce is underway. The Court is likely to grant orders similar to those agreed between parties in certain circumstances if satisfied that the agreement was entered into fairly.
Whether these agreements are binding overseas will depend on the law of the specific country, so it’s best to check.
Why are prenuptial and postnuptial agreements useful during marriage?
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are useful because they set parties’ expectations during and before married life. Parties will know in advance the proposed arrangements should they divorce and can factor that into their long-term decisions. Individuals without these agreements may not have such clarity and may not be well prepared for divorce. It’s also helpful to have clarity at a time that can be overwhelming and emotional.
How has having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement helped your clients?
These agreements have helped my clients save cost and time when resolving disputes. This is because they tend to allow parties to proceed with “simplified” divorces. Such divorces are cheaper and faster. The agreements facilitate proper emotional closure for both parties.